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Alumni Interview

Hoon Lim / Owner of FÜHAHA,

Café Maupassant, Café Creamm Jeju

Diplôme de Boulangerie 2015


What made you learn baking at Le Cordon Bleu-Sookmyung Academy?

Initially, I was a western cuisine chef. Then, about 10 years ago, when I was preparing to open a restaurant, I visited Japan, and the bread, the desserts, and the coffee there caught my eyes. In Korea, the neighborhood bakeries were starting to decline, and bakery franchises were expanding their scope to high-end bread and dessert. In Japan, I kept noticing the luxurious and delicious bread of department stores and the devotion and warmth gone into making the bread that are unique to the small neighborhood bakeries. And somehow, there was always a French flag in the corner of their signs or logos. So when I decided that I wanted to make bread and dessert, of course, it was the French bread and dessert that I chose to learn. That’s how I joined Le Cordon Bleu, the traditional culinary school of French Bakery and Pastry.

What did you do before joining the Academy?

I majored in theater art, so I used to act and run a restaurant business in Daehangno. At Hongdae, I also ran different food businesses from the bar ‘Sarang Sulsul,' Dennis restaurant, 'Shinjo Apgujeong Pocha,' the gimbap franchise ‘Robot Gimbap.' I also offered brand consulting to ‘Hongdae Jopok Tteokbokki,' so I worked in many areas of the restaurant business.      

What do you do now?

Currently, in the restoration business, I run <FÜHAHA Cream bread>, <Café Maupassant> as well as <Café Cream> which is at the Arario Museum at D&Department in Jeju island. Otherwise, I also run the <Little Theater Hyehwadang> at Daehangno. 

What was the most memorable activity at Le Cordon Bleu?

At the time, I worked while taking the courses. So, I was especially stressed during the exam period and worried about my results even If I had done my best and participated as much as I could. I remember all these times when my classmates were of great help. I successfully passed all the exams, and after finishing the last stage, the graduation exhibition, I remember we all hugged and cried together. Looking back at the graduation exhibition, I still was a beginner, and my bread was far from excellent. But I think it’s all these efforts that culminated into today’s ‘FÜHAHA Cream bread.' I still remember and miss our Chef, who used to teach us harshly when we didn’t deliver a nice result, but who used to encourage us when we were bummed.    

Do you have any tips in running multiple businesses successfully?

That's the most cautious and challenging question I get these days. I think there is always an answer, and the problem is that the answer keeps evolving. Especially at times like this. So when I get these questions, my new answer is "luck," you got to have luck.

[Alumnus’ Tip]

Firstly, luck must be on your side.  

Each time I open a new store, the word luck comes to my mind. "I haven't done this alone." When I look back at the process and the decision-making on the choice of the product and the location of the store I am grateful for the results and the luck I had. I hope that luck follows me again for my next store.

Secondly, make something you turely like and that you would like to eat.

I think that's how you know what is truly delicious and how you can continuously enjoy your work. So to me, cream bread and cannelé are still delicious. And at my café, there is this coffee that I blended and roasted just as I like, so it’s a true delight when I take coffee every morning.

Lastly, make sure that the service industry is right for you.

I’m not going to say that I think all my clients are my family, but I consider them my friends or acquaintances. If you do so, greeting a client is pleasant every time. When you take their order, you can recommend a composition that you truly want to give them, and when you offer complimentary food on the house, it’s not really to make them “come back” but simply because you really want them to taste more. With this type of interaction with your clients, working from early morning to late night is not so tiring. It is a joy to welcome every client. And one day, you'll see these clients become your friends, and they are also the driving force for you to keep going and doing what you love.

You are running businesses with your former classmates from Le Cordon Bleu. Do you have any memorable moments working with them?  

The reason why I can operate <FÜHAHA Cream bread>, <Maupassant>, and <Cream Jeju> is because of my colleagues who worked with me from the openings. Working with your former classmates really helps, and you are not ashamed of not knowing or making mistakes. Because we are between alumni, we don't need to pretend. I am very grateful that they understand what can be hard for me to operate these businesses. As we are not a large company, I am sorry that there are limits to what I can give back to them. But all the times we were together and opened new stores together are memories I hold dear.

If you have a role model, could you tell us who and why?

Bong Joon-ho, the film director. I envy his ability to express his intended message to the public so effectively through his work. I also think greatly of the process of making a movie and his leadership to lead his staff.

What are your future goals and plan?

There is one thing on my mind these days. What can make me enjoy these repetitive tasks and results every morning for the rest of my life? My plan and goal are to be the best in the field, be acknowledged as the best, and run stores that you are thankful for because it continuously serves you the same quality products at the very same location. So now I am looking back at my initial intentions and preparing to make my favorite bread more worthy in Jeju Island.

Would you like to say something to the students who are considering to start the courses?

What Le Cordon Bleu has taught me and how the diploma has transformed me are as follows. If you dream about change, start your heart engine and drive along with your passion.

First, I became confident. 

Second, I learned exactly what I have to work on.

Third, I gained confidence by becoming a bakery major. 

Fourth, I have people that I can discuss with and think together (alumni, school, chef instructors)

Fifth, I am a Le Cordon Bleu graduate wherever I go and wherever I am.

For me Le Cordon Bleu is?

For me, Le Cordon Bleu is the best security and credit guarantee. For the passionate novice chef who was opting for a new start, Le Cordon Bleu guaranteed credibility. With that, I could be appropriately evaluated and open a store. Till today I am a chef from Le Cordon Bleu, and I will maintain my kitchen proudly as a chef from Le Cordon Bleu.

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